Monday, June 29, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 222: Watch the Houston Astros play at Minute Maid Park

Minute Maid Park - June 28, 2015
I’ve been a baseball fan all my life, but I’ve seen very few professional games in person. Growing up in Southwest Alabama, the closest Major League team to my hometown has always been the Atlanta Braves (260 or so miles), and I’ve been to several of their games over the years. However, I’ve always wanted to watch some of the other teams within a day’s drive of my hometown, which is why I put “Watch the Houston Astros play at Minute Maid Park” on my bucket list several years ago.

Yesterday (Sunday), my family and I were in Houston, so we seized the day and got tickets to watch the Astros play the New York Yankees. The Astros won, 3-1, and to the best of my knowledge this was the first time I’ve ever seen two American League teams play in person. We had a great time, and I really enjoyed scratching another baseball-related item off my bucket list.

Growing up, I listened to my dad tell tales of the time that he got to watch the 1968 Major League All-Star Game at the old Astrodome in Houston. That game featured such greats as Steve Carlton, Don Drysdale, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Luis Tiant and Carl Yastrzemski. Having heard so much about that game, I’ve always associated great baseball with Houston.

The Astrodome, which opened in April 1965, and closed in 2006, about 10 years after it was last used as a Major League baseball park. The Astros moved into Minute Maid Park in 2002, and it’s been their home ever since. (The park was originally called Enron Field, but was renamed Minute Maid Park in 2002.)

One thing that makes Minute Maid Park a great place to watch a baseball game is its retractable roof. Lets face it, the hot weather in late June in Texas can be a beat down, but we found the park fully air-conditioned and very comfortable. There was also a high chance of rain for the Houston area on Sunday, but the retractable roof kept conditions nice and dry and prevented a rainout.

Yesterday’s game was a good one. The score was tied, 1-1, until the bottom of the seventh and the Astros added two runs in the late innings to get the win.

I especially enjoyed getting to see Yankees designated Alex Rodriguez play in person. “A-Rod,” who was lustily booed by just about all of the 31,961 in attendance, went 1-for-4, striking out three times. The jury’s still out on whether or not Rodriguez will make it into the Hall of Fame, but few will argue that he’s not one of the best players ever.

Other outstanding players in the game for the Yankees included Michael Pineda, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Didi Gregorius and Carlos Beltran. Top players for the Astros included Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis and Jason Castro.

In the end, how many of you have ever watched the Astros play at Minute Maid Park? What did you think about it? Did they win? Who were they playing? Let us know in the comments section below.

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